If you’re debating staying in Sneem in Kerry, you’ve landed in the right place.
Surrounded by mountains, the gorgeous town of Sneem is a great spot to base yourself along the Ring of Kerry.
Especially if you’re looking to dodge the crowds (it’s nice and quiet here) and soak up a small town vibe.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Sneem to where to eat, sleep and drink in this colourful little village.
Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Sneem in Kerry
Although a visit to Sneem in Kerry is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Around 45 km from Killarney, Sneem is situated at the estuary of the River Sneem on the south of Iveragh Peninsula. It’s surrounded by mountains, rolling hills, and waterways, and if you follow the river south, it spills into the nearby Kenmare Bay.
In English, the Irish name for Sneem, An tSnaidhm, translates to ‘the knot’. There are a number of theories as to how the name came about.
The most common explanation is that the town consists of a north and south square, linked together by a small bridge over the river. When seen from above, the bridge serves as the knot that ties the town together.
3. Ring of Kerry town
Sneem is a fantastic spot along the Ring of Kerry driving and cycling route. It’s a popular stop off point, and is just a little under halfway round the ring. As a result, there are plenty of things to do in Sneem and there and endless number of places to visit in Kerry close-by.
A very brief history of Sneem
The small town of Sneem has long been associated with a more remote and relaxed way of life. It was historically a maritime town and used to have a fairly busy harbour, though this no longer functions.
The two squares, as well as the roads between, both showcase a number of quaint, stone cottages and houses that date back hundreds of years in some cases.
Nowadays, these mostly operate as shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes, guesthouses, and homes for the locals. Tourism has become a major part of life in the town, though it still manages to retain its village-like charm and a strong local character.
Over the years, many people have visited and subsequently fallen in love with Sneem. Most prominent is perhaps the former French President Charles de Gaulle, who now has a monument dedicated to him in the north square.
If you check some of the local shops, you’ll find a book called ‘Sneem, the Knot in the Ring’, which delves into the local history.
Things to do in Sneem (and nearby)
Although there are a handful of things to do in Sneem, the biggest attraction of the village (aside from its charm!) is that it’s a stone’s throw from lots of attractions
Sneem is absolutely gorgeous, and you could easily spend a week or two just soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sights. Whenever I’m in the area, here’s what I like to do.
1. Grab a coffee and soak up the scenery
On a fair morning, there’s nothing better than sitting out in front of one of the cafes or pubs with a nice cup of coffee. You’ll find some superb coffee in the village as well, which we’ll discuss later.
The fresh air, the sound of the river, the people passing by, and the mountains looming in the distance, all add to the experience, and it’s one of the best ways to unwind from the rigours of ‘real life’!
2. Sink a pint in O’Shea’s — one of the brightest pubs on the Wild Atlantic Way
Of course, coffee is great to start the day, but a pint or two in O’Shea’s is a real joy, especially after a long drive or a day of walking.
We’ll take a closer look at the pub below, but suffice to say it’s a firm favourite, and always offers a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere.
This is arguably one of my favourite things to do in Sneem, and it’s made all the more enjoyable if you’ve spent a long day hiking.
3. Take a spin to Derrynane Beach (31-minute drive)
Sneem isn’t really known for its beaches, but if you do fancy a day at the seaside, you’re just a short drive from one of the best in Ireland.
Derrynane Beach offers beautiful sandy shores, sand dunes, and in good weather, calm waters for swimming in.
4. Step back in time at Staigue Stone Fort (24-minute drive)
Take a small detour off the Ring of Kerry, and after following some small, windy roads, you’ll arrive at Staigue Stone Fort.
This is one of my favourite ancient, stone ring forts, and it dates back to around 600 AD. Off the beaten track, it’s peaceful and remote, and well worth a short drive if you’re staying in Sneem.
5. Take a drive along the coast to Kenmare Town
Kenmare is just over 25 km from Sneem, and it’s worth checking out. It’s a historic little town thats a joy to stroll around!
6. And add in a visit to Killarney, if you fancy!
Killarney is perhaps the largest town on the Ring of Kerry and also the official start/finish point. It’s another spectacular town to visit, packed full of things to do.
Perched on the edge of the Killarney National Park, there are also plenty of opportunities to get out into the local nature.
7. Experience the very unique Ballaghbeama Gap
There are several mountain passes in Ireland, all are spectacular in their own ways, but sometimes they can be just a little too popular, especially in high season.
That’s not the case with the Ballaghbeama Gap, a remote and tranquil pass that is almost otherworldly in its rugged, natural beauty.
Sneem hotels and accommodation
OK, now that we’ve covered the different things to do in Sneem and some of the things to see near the village, it’s time to tackle accommodation in Sneem.
From the well-known Sneem Hotel (one of our favourite hotels in Kerry, as it happens!) to lesser-known guesthouses and B&Bs, you’ll find some mighty accommodation in Sneem below.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
Guesthouses and B&Bs
If you prefer not to do the cooking while you’re away, there are plenty of guesthouses and b&bs that offer excellent rooms and gorgeous breakfasts.
Many of these can be found in the town, though there are a number of places a short walk away as well. Expect a warm Irish welcome and friendly hosts who won’t hesitate to help out with any queries you might have.
Hotels and Resorts
Looking to be pampered? The Sneem Hotel is arguably the most popular place to stay in the area (there’s also incredible views from the property).
Expect sea views, excellent food, cozy rooms, and a wealth of other facilities that will ensure a luxurious stay in Sneem.
Few things beat having a pint at the end of the day in one of Sneem’s friendly pubs. The town also lends itself to an easy-going pub crawl. Here are some of my top choices.
For many, O’Shea’s is the beating heart of Sneem, a vibrant pub that serves up a fine array of food and drinks, featuring local brews and freshly caught seafood.
Inside it’s picture perfect, in fact several Sneem postcards feature it, with roaring fireplaces, natural stone walls, and wood panel finishes.
There are several nooks and crannies if you crave peace, or sit up at the bar where you’re bound to get chatting to someone.
On a good day, the patio is great, and there are some seats out front too. The pub also hosts a number of events, such as live music and BBQ days.
2. Riney’s Bar & Beer Garden
Riney’s offers a lively atmosphere and an amazing beer garden, probably one of the best in Ireland. They have a good selection of beers, including some local options, as well as decent food.
If you’re lucky they’ll be hosting one of their legendary hog roasts or BBQs in the garden, an event that is guaranteed to lure the locals and visitors alike. Inside is fantastic as well, with a bustling bar, fireplaces, and quirky decor.
3. Dan Murphy’s Bar
One of the best pubs not just in Sneem, but along the entire Ring of Kerry. Dan Murphy’s Bar is full of character and guarantees great craic.
Regular live and impromptu music sessions add to the atmosphere, and it doesn’t take long until the entire pub is singing along.
Inside is fantastic, with bars and furniture made from reclaimed wood, charming decor, and roaring fireplaces. The outdoor seating is great on a sunny day, and it’s all-too-easy to spend many hours enjoying a few pints.
Sneem Restaurants and Cafes
If you’ve just spent a day ticking off the many different things to do in Sneem, the chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite.
When hunger strikes, you’ve got plenty of choices for some fantastic grub in Sneem. Here are some of the best.
1. The Blue Bull
The Blue Bull offers a good selection of traditional Irish dishes, as well as amazing locally caught seafood. From shepherd’s pie to Kenmare Bay mussels, there’s something for every taste.
Plus, with a number of vegetarian options and a kid’s menu, no one is left out. The family run restaurant is fairly small and quaint, adding to the warm atmosphere. On a warm day, their beer garden is ideal for a pint with lunch, or coffee and cake.
2. Sacre Coeur Restaurant
Snug and cosy, Sacre Coeur was arguably one of the first restaurants in Sneem to cater to passing travellers, opening back in the 1960s.
From day one the owners focussed on fresh, local produce, with meat procured from local butchers, vegetables grown in Ireland, and freshly caught seafood from mere miles away.
To this day, the standard hasn’t dropped, and the small boutique restaurant offers excellent value and a range of delicious meals.
3. Kelly’s Bakery
Kelly’s is a real treat and a must-visit in Sneem. It’s my favourite place to grab a cup of coffee — one of the best in Kerry — and a sausage roll or a cake.
The family run bakery, deli, and coffee shop was opened in 1955 by Dan and Daisy Kelly. Nowadays, their children run the place, but at 80 odd, Dan still bakes the bread each day and delivers around the village.
The homemade baking is divine, while the choice of Irish cheese and meat from the deli is worth exploring too. Oh, and the coffee, don’t forget to enjoy a cup!
4. Gossip Café
Talking about coffee, Gossip gives Kelly’s stiff competition, and the cafe is another favourite place to sit and enjoy a cup.
They serve up a range of tasty dishes as well, from pizza to Irish classics, making use of local ingredients, including cheese from Sneem, and home-grown veg and herbs from their own garden.
There’s also a good selection of vegan, veggie, and gluten free options as well, so there’s really something for everyone. Amazing desserts, but for me, I can’t resist the meat and cheese platters!
FAQs about visiting Sneem in Kerry
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Kerry that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking bout everything from things to do in Sneem to where to stay.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Are there many things to do in Sneem?
While there are only a handful of things to do in Sneem, there’s endless places to visit very close to the village, which makes it a great base to explore Kerry from.
Is it worth basing yourself in Sneem when visiting Kerry?
Yes – especially if you want to dodge the crowds and experience a proper old Irish town that’s surrounded by magnificent scenery. You can spent the day ticking off the different things to do in Sneem and then night eating and, if you fancy, experiencing the local pub scene.
What are the best places to stay in Sneem?
The Sneem Hotel is a great shout, if you fancy a hotel, but there are also plenty of guesthouses and B&Bs available, too (see the links above).
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.